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New Zealand to play Japan

New Zealand's Chris Wood goes up against Japan's Masato Morishige in the Kirin Challenge Cup 2014. Image: Phototek

The New Zealand All Whites international calendar in 2017 is complete with the national team confirming an international friendly against Japan in Nagoya next month.

Anthony Hudson’s team, who defeated the Solomon Islands home (6-1) and drew away (2-2) for an 8-3 win on aggregate to book their place in the Intercontinental Playoff in November, will face the World No 44 Japan on Friday 6 October at Toyota Stadium in Nagoya.

While the All Whites won the OFC Stage 3 Playoff, Japan defeated Australia (2-0) in the AFC Stage Three Qualifiers to book their place in the 20118 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Hudson said the fixture, which will be for the Kirin Challenge Cup, would be a great test for his side in their final match before taking on the fifth-ranked South American team for a place at the FIFA World Cup.

“We are really pleased to have this international friendly with Japan confirmed,” he said.

“They are a top team and they are a team in form as they have qualified for the World Cup next year – their sixth World Cup in a row which is a great achievement. They are a great team for us to play now that we have qualified for the Intercontinental Playoff in November.

“Coming up against world-class opposition away from home will give us an ideal build-up. We had options for a second game but we want to get our players back to their clubs early to help cope with the heavy schedule we face either side of this window. So this window ticks both boxes for us.”

Japan are one of the most dominant teams in the Asian Football Confederation. They have qualified for the last six consecutive FIFA World Cups and advanced to the second round in 2002 and 2010.

In recent time they have been on a great run in the AFC Stage Three Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualification. They went on a great run winning 10 internationals in a row to be top of Group B. In that run they defeated Thailand (2), Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, drew with Australia, Syria and Iraq, and most recently beat Australia 2-0 to secure their place in Russia.  That ended yesterday (NZT) when Japan lost to Saudi Arabia (1-0) away from home.

New Zealand have a good record against Japan. Throughout their history they have played them five times and won on three occasions – 3-1 (Auckland, 1983), 1-0 (Tokyo, 1983) and 1-0 (Kuala Lumpar, 1984).

The most recent international between New Zealand and Japan was in 2014 in Tokyo where Chris Wood scored twice, but the All Whites went down 4-2.

New Zealand will play the fifth-place team from South America in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Intercontinental Play-Off in November.

Story courtesy of New Zealand Football

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